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Upset about dd's Parents' Night - Maths

(29 Posts)
Dancergirl Fri 03-Feb-17 11:29:21

Dd is in Year 9 at a girls' grammar. Last night was Parents' Night. Pretty much all her teachers gave her glowing reports, she is doing well, participates well in lessons, has a good attitude to learning and is a pleasure to have in class.

With the exception of Maths. The teacher hardly had a good word for her, dd's test score was below the average but the focus of the 5 min appointment was on dd's poor attitude.

For background - dd has had this same Maths teacher since the start of Year 7. In Year 7 dd's confidence took a bit of a knock, some of the girls are real Maths whizzes. Dd can keep up in lessons ok but she is more English/Humanities. Nothing wrong with that. However dd said this teacher has her favourites, she quickly identified dd as being weak at Maths, constantly picked on her and dd's confidence plummeted further.

Year 8 there was some improvement and dd made good progress in Maths. She was gutted to get this teacher again in Year 9. Apart from the obvious personality clash, dd says her teaching is poor and she doesn't explain the work well. This teacher also talks about students behind their backs, she regularly says 'I shouldn't say this but.....' She also seems to spend an awful lot of time talking about her own family, dd knows so much about her oldest daughter and her 11+ exams for different schools.

We did have a quick word about the issue last night and she said she would talk to the teacher and see what her take on it is.

Dd (and me and dh) are upset because she obviously doesn't know dd at all.

I know sometimes at school you don't always get on with every teacher and I did point out to dd that sometimes you have work with people you might not like or get on with. But I am worried about dd's Maths and her confidence and things are not going to improve after such an appalling parents' night.

amidawish Fri 03-Feb-17 11:32:55

can she be moved classes for maths?
the same teacher you don't get on with for 3 years is pretty bad luck!
are they streamed?

TeenAndTween Fri 03-Feb-17 11:33:21

This may sound daft, but can you suggest she moves down a set in order to regain confidence and get away from the teacher ?

Maths is so much about confidence in my opinion. Better to be confident in a lower set than unconfident in a higher one.

Alternatively do whatever you can behind the scenes so DD gets moved up a set instead.

Dancergirl Fri 03-Feb-17 11:33:59

No streaming for Maths until Year 10 and impossible to move classes unfortunately. I just don't know if I'm being precious about it, dd was so upset last night.

Dancergirl Fri 03-Feb-17 11:35:03

Dd is actually hoping for the bottom set next year, it's a smaller group and they get the best teacher. But it's only half way through this year.

amidawish Fri 03-Feb-17 11:44:02

why is it impossible to move classes?
have you asked?
it's pretty unusual for no streaming AT ALL in maths until yr10 ?!

Dancergirl Fri 03-Feb-17 11:54:58

Yes we asked. No Maths setting or streaming until Year 10. At the moment they are taught Maths in their teaching groups.

bojorojo Fri 03-Feb-17 12:06:43

I think I would speak to the Head of Year. Just to see if there could be any movement of teaching group. I cannot see it is in their interests for a child to "fail" and be unhappy. No decent school would want to see this and they should understand and maybe talk to her about meeting the teacher half-way with regard to attitude.

My DD went down a set in her year group and really improved with the best teacher! She was overwhelmed by others being so good at maths her confidence was at rock bottom. I think grammar schools tend to expect all the children to be of similar ability but this is never the case. I am surprised the school does not set by ability in this day and age and it must mean some children do struggle who could do with a confidence boost. Hope you get a satisfactory resolution.

cowgirlsareforever Fri 03-Feb-17 12:14:39

We had this for years. Glowing reports, A* and A in all other subjects. Turned out he had dyscalculia....

amidawish Fri 03-Feb-17 12:17:36

definitely talk to HofY. They need to help find a solution. The teacher sounds dreadful. So stressful.

Dancergirl Fri 03-Feb-17 12:19:29

I do agree bojo and I think setting from Year 7 would be a good idea. My oldest dd is at a different school and benefited hugely from being in the bottom Maths set - smaller group, good teacher. She has just got a B for her GCSE mock and is hoping to get an A in the summer.

This teacher is just so negative about everything. Last year she was saying the work was only going to get harder in a sort of scary way. Is it normal at parents' evening not to say anything positive about your child at all??

bojorojo Fri 03-Feb-17 12:29:25

No, it is not normal. That is why I would go to the HoY because it is clearly not going to resolve itself without input from another senior person in the school. I tend to think that some teachers do try and scare children into working without realising they are struggling so cannot catch up. (I was one of those). If the school cannot change the teaching group, then a "clear the air" meeting would be a minimum requirement and a recognition that your DD struggles to keep up. Getting the teacher to articulate where she needs help would be a good start. If they have to continue to work together, I think it is vital there is some discussion involing the teacher, your DD, you and a senior member of staff.

Lilly948204 Fri 03-Feb-17 12:33:39

I'm a secondary teacher and I find it crazy they don't set for maths! Unfortunately some teachers aren't good and it seems really silly of the school to have kept the same group with the same teacher three years in a row. I'd be speaking to the head of year about your concerns.

FATEdestiny Fri 03-Feb-17 12:40:00

focus of the 5 min appointment was on dd's poor attitude.

Does she have a poor attitude in her maths lessons?

JustRichmal Fri 03-Feb-17 12:49:16

Would your dd be prepared to work on maths at home to build her confidence up?

I used the Letts revision guide and workbook to teach dd and then turned to Khan Academy videos for the bits we were struggling with.

She could be falling into the trap of thinking she does not get maths straight away when others do, so she is no good at maths. Maths will then become more tedious and difficult for her to succeed at. She needs to get out of this downward spiral and, as it does not sound as if she has a teacher who will help her, she has to do it herself.

The first and most important thing in learning maths is not to worry if you do not understand it when you first look at it. Take in what you can and then have a break from it. When you go back your subconscious will have worked on it and it will keep getting easier every time you return to it. Going into maths with this attitude will help break down the anxiety of not being good at maths because you do not understand it, which is such a barrier to learning. Instead you are building that understanding.

There are some excellent teachers out there, and there are also, unfortunately, those who should not be teaching. I too have a dd who is year 9 and at this age they are old enough to realise if they want good grades but have a bad teacher they will have to put the work in and hope for a better teacher next year.

Bensyster Fri 03-Feb-17 13:51:39

I would try to find a good tutor to help build her confidence.

Dancergirl Fri 03-Feb-17 13:51:51

fate I don't know. The teacher says dd was 'making faces'. Dd is not one to play up and disrespect teachers but maybe she looked grumpy as she's so fed up with the situation and dreads Maths lessons.

Traalaa Fri 03-Feb-17 15:52:11

If she can't move sets, you could maybe go on a passive aggressive charm offensive. Ask to see the teacher again - don't take DD. Smile, ask for her help, but emphasise her that your DD's doing really well in all other areas and nobody else has a problem with her, so the problem is clearly just in maths. Say she needs encouragement as she's losing confidence and you're sure her teacher doesn't want that. Ask if you can help at home. Then don't leave before saying - in a throw away sort of way - that if DD doesn't start to feel better about maths, you'll maybe meet with the Head of Year to see if they have any suggestions.

Dancergirl Fri 03-Feb-17 16:28:24

traa I'm not sure the encouragement will help. I think she is already trying to encourage dd but she has a very patronising way of speaking (it was evident last night), it's like she's addressing 5 year olds. Dd says (can't remember if currently or last year) that the teachers asks her every few minutes if she's ok or if she's understood, but this makes dd feel like she's the dunce of the class and just switches off. Dd says she does say sometimes if she hasn't understood something, then the teacher explains it the same way and she still doesn't understand.

I actually don't think there is anything wrong with dd's Maths abilities. They are working at least a year ahead anyway so the work is close to GCSE standard. I imagine she will get a good grade at GCSE. But it's all relative against some very very able mathematicians. I think dd thinks she's doing ok at Maths but the teacher doesn't think so. She made a huge drama about dd getting below the average in a recent test, but as dd rightly pointed out, someone has to be below the average for there to be an average!

Dancergirl Fri 03-Feb-17 16:31:02

if they want good grades but have a bad teacher they will have to put the work in and hope for a better teacher next year

this is very true and I agree. Dd certainly wouldn't be opposed to doing some extra work if required. It's just she (and I) are upset about the teacher not finding one good thing to say about her sad

sendsummer Fri 03-Feb-17 16:56:19

Dancergirl I do wonder whether some of the weaker teachers use this negativity tactic to alarm engaged parents enough for them to get some tutoring for their 'below average' DC and thus push up the grades without any extra effort by the teacher.
Unfortunately the only way to compensate poor teaching is by extra work outside class. I would have another word with the teacher though to point out that she is the only teacher to find fault with your DD's attitude and why does she think that is. I can't see the point of not being direct about it at this stage.

bojorojo Fri 03-Feb-17 18:04:55

This is supposed to be grammar school! What below average DC? Why should any child need tutoring in this school? I would be ashamed if I was the Head and there was poor teaching. I think I would bypas the teacher and go to the Head of Year. Why would a further meeting with a very negative teacher accomplish anything? Do the pupils have personal tutors? This could be a way forward.

GeorgeTheHamster Fri 03-Feb-17 18:09:52

It sounds like a personality clash and I'd be encouraging her just to crack on with it. She'll have a different teacher next year. Use a website like mymaths to boost her confidence - does the school have a subscription? I'd suggest you don't do anything for a week or two, see if things settle down.

sendsummer Fri 03-Feb-17 18:47:21

bojoro I deliberately put 'below average' in speech marks because in some grammar schools that may mean an A rather than an A*.

What would another meeting with this teacher accomplish? Well, I prefer giving people at least a chance to explain themselves before going to their line manager. It does n't sound as though the OP felt able to challenge this teacher at the parents' evening.
Most schools have some weak maths teachers unfortunately but this one sounds unpleasant.

bojorojo Fri 03-Feb-17 19:53:23

I did appreciate what you meant, but it is unacceptable that the teacher does not appreciate that the needs of children are different and that an A maybe good progress for that child. It may not be for lots of others. Some children find maths a struggle in comparison to their very bright colleagues and if a school does not set, teachers must have a strategy for teaching these pupils. They are always going to be there! I do not believe any school such as this should expect parents to tutor. The weakest mathematicians deserve proper teaching and shock tactics do not motivate everyone.

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